Many times, the most terrifying concepts in horror movies are those that are realistic. That’s exactly what director Jennifer Lynch sought out to do with her new film Chained.
Chained follows a young boy who is held captive by the serial killer who kidnapped both him and his mother, whom he kills. After killing his mother, the serial killer Bob (Vincent D’onofrio) explains to the child that he isn’t wanted, but since he’s there he might as well be made useful. Bob explains to the boy, newly named Rabbit, that he will be his servant for the rest of his life. We only see a couple scenes of the young boy as it jumps about a decade in time to when he is about college age.
Chained has an interesting premise, but falls into a rut of monotony throughout the middle of the film. Pretty much the entire middle of the film is taken up by Bob bringing home girls, trying to teach things to Rabbit, Rabbit rebelling, and then Bob getting angry. Early on, Rabbit tries to escape, but is caught right away and never can try to escape again because he is then chained to the kitchen wall. Also, cops never get involved at all during the film, so there’s never any real tension or hint of resolution. Other than this same routine, we see little else. We are shown a flashback that tries to explain a little bit about why Bob character does what he does, but it’s not much more than that.
Through all of its flaws, Vincent D’onofrio carries this film on his back. His portrayal of the sick serial killer is nothing short of award-worthy. Right down to the accent and ticks he gives the character all work to bring his madness to the screen. Even Eamon Farren, the actor who plays grown up Rabbit, does an excellent job. You can feel the pain of the 9 year old kid trapped in a 19 year old body, never given the chance to truly grow up. Chained also has a good build-up of the dynamic between the servant and his master. Rabbit starts out almost as just his pet, but the bond grows over 10 years. Rabbit never gives in to his sadistic “new father”, but Bob gets offended when Rabbit yells at him that he’s not his dad.
Without giving any spoilers away, the ending is where Chained suffers as well. There is a twist that is so unneeded and abrupt it feels like it didn’t belong. It would have been better if the twist had more time to be fleshed out and we see the results, or just leave it out altogether.
Though flawed at times, Chained deserves a watch due to Vincent D’onofrio alone, and I can give it a modest recommendation that this is a film worth forming your own opinion for.